Dr. Tajudeen Abass’s Speakership campaign is gathering pace amid opposition from his fellow candidates, led by departing Deputy Speaker Ahmed Wase.
Wase, Muktar Aliyu Betara, Yusuf Adamu Gagdi, Sada Soli, and Miriam Onuoha have denounced the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) and President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s support for Abass’s House presidency bid.
With less than two weeks till the 10th National Assembly (NASS) inauguration, the Senator Abdullahi Adamu-led National Working Committee (NWC) is unlikely to change its position on NASS primary office seats.
Felix Morka, APC’s national press secretary, said the party’s position is sacrosanct awaiting the conclusion of consultation sessions with unhappy aspirants and crucial stakeholders from around the country.
Since the Presidency supports the zoning system, a source who requested anonymity said the power sharing arrangement review is difficult to sell.
“You don’t expect us to sit down with the President, agree on how things should go, and then say something different. Consultations and discussions are regular topics. That’s just politics. The source said nothing will change.
Dr. Salihu Lukman, the APC’s national vice chairman (North West), cautioned against any conservative conspiracy to change the National Assembly’s main officer sharing structure. Lukman blamed the party’s national head for the selfish scheme.
He said that the party’s conservative bloc is already making ethnic northern arguments against the APC NWC’s and President Tinubu’s zoning choices.
To protect his administration, he urged President Tinubu to take complete leadership of the APC. “As if those consultations were not designed to produce agreements, once the NWC approved the recommendation for zoning the leadership of the 10th National Assembly, Sen. Abdullahi Adamu, instead of acting as the National Chairman, facilitating implementation of organs of the party, is acting as a factional leader opposing the decision of the NWC,” he said.
“Instead of working for the success of the NWC decision through activating meetings of higher organs of the party to confer more legitimacy to the decision, he seems to be more interested in ensuring that the 2015 model of rebellious leadership emerge in the 10th National Assembly.
President Tinubu’s task is simple. He was clearly well-prepared. Given his internal conflicts before becoming Nigeria’s president, he has what it takes to restore the APC to its progressive roots.
“His first test as APC president is whether he will allow leading conservatives to continue to block party structures from operating as provided for in the APC constitution. It’s tragic that the APC’s national chairman and secretary will be hardline conservatives.
“How can a progressive party have such a misfortune? Part of the test will be whether President Tinubu, having agreed with the APC NWC on zoning formula for the leadership of the 10th National Assembly, will just sit and watch conservative right-wing elements within the APC use northern ethnic arguments to mobilize for the defeat of endorsed APC candidates.
Abass, his deputy designee Benjamin Kalu, and 150 freshly and returning House members who support his speakership ambition visited the APC national headquarters. Senator Adamu, who supports aggrieved candidates, was surprised by Reps-elect on Abass entourage’s loyalty.
Adamu, who insisted that all members-elect introduce themselves individually, was surprised to see members of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), Labour Party (LP), and All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in the delegation.
In the party’s last week’s filled NWC hall, team members introduced themselves for about 30 minutes. The G7’s contention that Abbas’ followers are mostly hangers-on and legislative aides may explain Adamu’s viewpoint.
In accordance to the party position, G7 member and House leader Ado Alhassan Doguwa resigned for Abass before the visit to the national secretariat.
Abass’ speakership bid was strengthened by Mr. Ikenga Ugochinyere and 62 other opposition politicians. Since 2015, Order Paper Nigeria, a private, independent multi-platform Parliament-focused organization, has recognized Abbas and Benjamin Kalu as top achievers on significant bills for Nigerians.
Former NILDS director general Prof. Ladi Hamalai led the selection panel. Members include former politician Prof. Ali Ahmad, Ikechukwu Uwanna, Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, Amos Dunia, Kemi Yesufu, and convener Oke Epia.
CUPP spokeswoman Ugochinyere said their choice was beneficial for the country. PDP representative Ugochinyere from Ideato North South Federal Constituency believes Abass and Kalu could manage the House of Representatives.
He urged those vying for the Speakership of the House to drop out, saying that opposing political groups in the House would not support them.
The CUPP representative denied that the House Rules were tampered with to help Abass become Speaker.
“On this note, I call on my fellow colleagues who are still in the race to stop and join the prefect of the class, Abbas, to steer the ship of the 10th Assembly to beat the records of the other Houses in performance and achievement for Nigeria,” he added.
“Our common goal now should be beyond party and partisan politics and totally focused on Nigeria and her greater good. We chose the finest based on merit.
I speak for others. I represent 63 opposition family members-elect who share a vision for the 10th Assembly. We’ll become TBK.
Our 63 votes for Hon. Tajudeen Abbas are unanimous. Nigerians will learn about the TBK Group and experience our effect in the coming days.”
Hon. Amobi Ogah, LP member-elect for Isuikwuato/Umunneochi Federal constituency, said: “For the first time, we are trying to make history. I support Abass and Kalu regardless of APC. Abass and Kalu can. If elected Speaker and Deputy, the tenth assembly will be unique.
I ask my colleagues to support the pair for national unity.” Abbas sponsored 74 9th Assembly measures, while Benjamin Kalu sponsored 48.